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Guessing the Defense

August 7, 2014, 1:51 PM ET [99 Comments]
Travis Yost
Ottawa Senators Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Same rules apply as here, in which I try to guess what Paul MacLean's going to do with combinations to start the 2014-2015 regular season.

Unlike the forwards, where I think things are a mess (not necessarily in a bad way) and can be arranged a dozen ways over, I think the blue line is fairly set in stone.

P1: Erik Karlsson - Marc Methot

I think this team's ready to commit to Marc Methot again long-term, and truthfully, I'm not sure there's another defenseman on this roster that can play first-pairing minutes with Erik Karlsson other than the Ottawa native. Methot really strikes me as a second-pairing guy, but the other three options are Patrick Wiercioch (probably not), Jared Cowen (no), and Chris Phillips (no). I would like to see a wold where Karlsson-Wiercioch get a bit of run, but I think that should be a secondary option to this pairing anyway.

P2: Jared Cowen - Patrick Wiercioch

They're both left-handed shots, but MacLean toyed with them a bit last year and I think he's really going to give each guy another shot at securing a top-four role. Jared Cowen was horrifyingly bad last season, and MacLean made it a point to not really speak of his improvement at the end of the year, whereas he praised the development and learning curve of guys like the aforementioned Wiercioch and Eric Gryba. Wiercioch was really out of favor with MacLean for the first half of last year, but I think he was one of the team's better blue-liners in the 53-games he did play, and I wouldn't be surprised if he solidifies a regular, expansive role this season.

P3: Chris Phillips - Cody Ceci

I'm obviously never putting Chris Phillips in my starting lineup, but MacLean really seemed to like this duo last year, citing the veteran's ability to 'balance' Ceci out. MacLean actually likes this pairing to the point where I wouldn't be shocked if they were the team's second-pairing by ice time, relegating Cowen and Wiercioch to P3.

Leftovers: Eric Gryba, Mark Borowiecki.

Gryba came into his own last year as a respectable third-pairing type, and it's a mild shame he'll be on the outside looking in on a defense that really grades low against the rest of the league. As for Borowiecki, his one-way contract is kind of inexplicable. I'd imagine that if he wasn't on a one-way deal, he'd be the no-brainer option to be back down in Binghamton.

We could very well see a move to give the team a bit more flexibility -- with how many forwards this team has, you'd like to think they'd carry an extra body there, as opposed to eight defensemen. We'll see if the organization punts one of these guys (perhaps Borowiecki, via waivers?) before the start of the season.

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